There’s been a lot of controversy with China recently, a lot of which we have documented here. With the Aurora attacks targeting Google too and the attack code originating from China Google stopped censoring it’s Google.cn search engine and is now almost certainly pulling out of China.
The latest report from the financial times is that Google can’t reach an agreement with the Chinese authorities so it looks like Google.cn will be shut down.
I guess the hope is that even if they shut down the search engine they will still be able to continue business operations in China as they have a good base there. They could suffer some pretty heavy losses if China pushes them out of the country completely.
Google is now “99.9 per cent” certain it will shut down its Chinese search engine, according to a report citing “a person familiar with the company’s thinking.”
The Financial Times reports that the web giant has drawn up detailed plans for closing Google.cn, saying the company’s discussions with Chinese authorities reached an impasse. The news came hours after a Chinese minister warned Google that it would “have to bear the consequences” if it stopped censoring results on Google.cn.
On January 12, after alleged Chinese hackers pilfered some sort of intellectual property from the company, Google announced it had decided to “no longer” censor search results in China, saying it would spend “the next few weeks” in talks with the government to determine “the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.” As it discusses the issue with multiple Chinese ministries, the company continues to censor results in accordance with local law, but it has postponed the release of two Google-branded Android phones in China and suspended the use of Google mobile apps on all Android handsets from Chinese carriers.
Google was pretty brave to stop censoring search results as they surely know how strong China stands on such issues. Without a doubt they were already prepared for the repercussions and ready to close down the search engine.
It seems like a real danger however that Google may have to cease operations in China entirely with the employees of the search giant fearing reprisals from the Chinese government.
As with most stories it might just be a drama over nothing and they’ll work it out, but honestly speaking with the Chinese government involved…I don’t see a pleasant ending in sight.
Echoing comments Eric Schmidt made the first week in March, The FT says that a decision on the matter could come soon, but the pink ‘un also says the web giant may “take some time” to actually follow through with the closure and find ways of ensuring that local employees are protected from action by the government.
According to The FT’s sources, Google wants to continue running its other operations in the country, but apparently, some company execs feel that may not be possible, fearing government reprisals for the closure of Google.cn.
With its January 12 blog post, Google seemed to indicate it may leave the country entirely. “We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China,” the post read. But at one point, CEO Eric Schmidt told The FT: “It’s very important to know we are not pulling out of China…We have a good business in China. This is about the censorship rules, not anything else.”
They are playing hardball too though delaying the launch of 2 android based devices for the Chinese market and suspending the use of Android apps on all Chinese carriers.
China is somewhat of a captive market though, they are not so into Google, Facebook and MSN like the rest of the world..they use their own tools like Baidu, QQ and chinese language based social networking sites.
Either way something is going to go down and I’m pretty sure it involves Google clearing out of China.
Source: The Register